Rich Kreiner: Minis Monday: Pizza Wizard, Sugarcube and Neon Girl

Posted by on March 1st, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Mini comics, q’est-ce que c’est?
Fa fa fa fa fa fa
Better read read read read read read read away.

Pizza Wizard #1 & #2 and Sugarcube
Samuel C. Gaskin
www.samgascan.blogspot.com


There’s a real dichotomy in the comics here of Samuel Gaskin. Pizza Wizard is a shaggy dog unspooling of a neverending errand of the title character which, over time, comes to resemble a fool’s holy quest. It’s ramshackle and unpredictable, unhooked from logic and overarching rhythm … like Little Nemo where art isn’t the point and there’s no regular return to coverlet-tossed normality.

And funny? Mercurially hilarious: There’s a visit to the literal seacraft “The S.S. Baby Boat” (“Stay off the poopdeck!”); one page suddenly mimics a prototypical pizza box top complete with red-ink design. Ads, subsidiary strips and ponderless puzzles meander around the pages. (The first issue’s tabloid newsprint, the second’s comic-sized.) Anything can happen and it’s all hunky-dory thanks to Gaskin’s loose, spare, “reality overboard!” style.

Sugarcube is autobiography done in mercilessly stripped-down line drawings. It’s a clearly hand-forged document detailing a real-life affliction — Type 1 diabetes — that defers not at all to representational realism. Objects, scenes and situations are rendered simply, directly, without much ornamentation. The protagonist is less detailed than a Fisher-Price figurine; his best friend is a whale-ish lump. Parents are disembodied voices. Any superficial distractions, anything that might artificially divert or manipulate is neglected. This is bare-boned reportage of certain emotions and, alternatively, the haunting vacuum of the absence of others. In allowing a place for self-pity and stupidity and confusion without frills or buffers, Gaskin lets the material speak for itself. It’s an unassuming embrace, a knowing acknowledgment and reconciliation borne of experience and shorn of sentimentality.

Neon Girl Zero and Neon Girl #1
Dennis Pacheco
dpacheco@pigeonholepress.net

Neon Girl by Dennis Pacheco so convincingly harnesses mainstream superhero trappings that it’s difficult not to read her adventures without comparison and reference to mainstream fare. Still, Pacheco does work in his idiosyncratic wrinkles, chief of which is an overt allowance for sex and sexuality: For instance, superhero-spotting is facilitated by eyeballing breast size. Issue one features an extended “Big Girl Fight” mixing generic mayhem and coy dishabille. Issue zero, in addition to its battle, gets down to the sheets with the joy of boning a superhottie which segues neatly to a moment of wizening insight. Pacheco’s dialogue, plotting and rendering is certainly convincing enough to meet industry standards. So depending where his heart lies, it seems entirely possible that he’ll continues to work out his current interests with this title or, alternatively, Neon Girl will prove something of a springboard for landing more homogenized superwork-for-hire.

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